On June 7, 2017, at the Academy’s 30th Anniversary celebration, a new generation of social insurance leaders were acknowledged by the eight living Founding Board Members of the Academy. The Torch Recipients, who embody the new generation of rising leaders, include:
Jean C. Accius serves as the Vice President of the Long-Term Services & Supports and Livable Communities Group within the AARP Public Policy Institute. In this role, he provides strategic direction, thought leadership and technical expertise to create and drive innovative policy solutions for improving the delivery and financing of long-term services and supports. Previously, he served as a Senior Policy Advisor within the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Accius has authored numerous publications including “Toward A Demographic Divide? Equity, Race and Social Security (2008)” and has written numerous reports and articles for the AARP Public Policy Institute that have garnered immense attention from the policy community, practitioners in the field and the media. Accius has been quoted by or appeared in numerous media outlets, including Politico, Next Avenue, Congressional Quarterly’s online arm and the Huffington Post. He is an adjunct professor at American University and sits on a variety of boards and advisory committees, including Justice in Aging; the American Society on Aging; Leadership Maryland; the Florida State University Alumni Association; the Editorial Advisory Committee for Generations, the Journal for the American Society on Aging; and the Mission and Population Board Committee of the Holy Cross Health hospital system. Accius is an Executive Leadership Council fellow and holds an M.S. in aging studies from the Claude Pepper Institute at Florida State University and a Ph.D. in public administration from American University. He was elected to the Academy in 2013
Ramsey L. Alwin is the Director of Thought Leadership for Financial Resilience in the Office of Policy, Research, and International Affairs at AARP. Alwin’s work focuses on longevity trends and economic security issues, especially as they relate to older adults. She was instrumental in formulating the Elder Economic Security Index for measuring the daily cost-of-living for an individual 65 and older of a given housing status, household composition, and location. Alwin has worked with federal agency officials, Congressional staff, local agency authorities, and as a spokesperson for print and broadcast media.
Prior to her position at AARP, Alwin was Vice President of Economic Security for the National Council on Aging (NCOA). At NCOA, she directed the Economic Security Initiative, a national multi-site demonstration project to help struggling seniors tap community resources, and the Home Equity Initiative, which educated older homeowners on the wise use of their home equity. Her efforts resulted in the creation of Savvy Saving Seniors® financial education toolkits and an online decision support tool, EconomicCheckUp®. Alwin served on the Workplace Flexibility 2010 Task Force on Phased Retirement at Georgetown University’s Law Center, the Board of Directors for Advocates for the Other America, and the National Benefits Outreach and Enrollment Advisory Board of the U.S. Administration on Aging. She has a B.A. in social policy from Simmons College. Alwin was elected to the Academy in 2010.
Jeff N. Cruz is a senior advisor to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the Senate Budget Committee for Social Security, pensions and labor issues. He has also worked in the Senate as the lead staffer on Social Security, Pensions, Labor and Immigration issues for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and as senior policy advisor for U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Previously, he was Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement at the White House, where he served as the main point-of-contact to outside organizations on healthcare, Social Security, and senior issues. Cruz relaunched and was the Executive Director of Latinos for a Secure Retirement, a coalition of national Latino organizations working to protect and strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and the pension system.
In 2008, Cruz took leave from the Senate to work for President Obama’s election campaign as the Deputy Director for Senior Outreach in the Chicago headquarters and then as the Florida State Seniors Vote Director. Prior to that, he was a senior policy analyst for Social Security and Medicare Part D programs for the Campaign for America’s Future and has worked in the House Democratic Leadership. Cruz holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He was elected to the Academy in 2010.
Walt Dawson is Director of Research and Analytics at the Oregon Health Care Association, a statewide, nonprofit trade association that represents more than 1,000 organizations and 90 percent of long term care providers in the state. He is an occasional lecturer in the Oregon Health & Science University –Portland State University School of Public Health. Dawson is on the Public Policy Committee of the American Society on Aging, the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association, Oregon Chapter, and the Editorial Advisory Board of Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging. Most recently, he was appointed by Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown to the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services.
In 2015, Dawson was a Fulbright Scholar to Canada, where he held the Visiting Research Chair in Governance and Public Policy at McMaster University. Previously, he worked in various policy and research positions in Washington, DC, including at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and the Health and Ageing Programme of the Atlantic Philanthropies. Dawson holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and a D. Phil. in social policy from the University of Oxford, where his research focused on long-term services and supports policy in the United States. He was a Visiting Scholar at the National Academy of Social Insurance in 2011. He was elected to the Academy in 2014.
Kathryn Anne Edwards is an associate economist at the RAND Corporation. Her research spans diverse areas of public policy, including the financial resources available to unemployed households, the role of Social Security in wealth inequality, and the sources of health insurance for disabled workers.
Prior to entering a PhD program, Edwards worked at the Economic Policy Institute. While there, she published numerous articles. She also authored The Kids Aren’t Alright: A Labor Market Analysis of Young Workers (2010), which discussed the severity of the unemployment crisis facing young adults, its historical context, and the implications for their future wages and skills. She authored The Young Person’s Guide to Social Security, published by the National Academy of Social Insurance (2012). Her graduate experience includes work as a National Institute of Aging Trainee at the Center for Demography and Human Ecology, a graduate fellow of the Institute for Research on Poverty, and a summer fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago through the Committee for the Study of Women in the Economics Profession. She received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2016. Edwards was elected to the Academy in 2015.
Sachin H. Jain, MD, MBA is President of CareMore Health System. He is also consulting professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a contributor at Forbes. Dr. Jain was previously CareMore’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining CareMore, Dr. Jain was Chief Medical Information & Innovation Officer at Merck & Co. He also served as an attending physician at the Boston VA-Boston Medical Center and a member of faculties at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School. From 2009-2011, Dr. Jain worked in the Obama Administration, where he was senior advisor to Donald Berwick when he led the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Dr. Jain was the first deputy director for policy and programs at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. He also served as special assistant to David Blumenthal when he was the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
Dr. Jain graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a BA in government and continued on to earn his MD from Harvard Medical School and MBA from Harvard Business School. He trained in medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Medicine, earned his board certification from the ABIM, and continues to practice medicine at CareMore. He is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journal Healthcare: The Journal of Delivery Science & Innovation. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and in journals such as the New England Journal, JAMA, Health Affairs, and the Harvard Business Review blogs and was an editor of the book, The Soul of a Doctor (Algonquin Press). Dr. Jain was elected to the National Academy of Social Insurance in 2010.
Alex Lawson is Executive Director of Social Security Works, a non-profit group focused on ways to protect and improve the economic security of disadvantaged and at-risk populations while maintaining Social Security as a vehicle of social justice. The group is the convening member of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign — a coalition made up of over 340 national and state organizations representing more than 50 million Americans. Lawson was the first employee of Social Security Works, when he served as the communications director. He led a major communications and messaging project now used by many advocates, congressional staff, and members of Congress. He has managed the creation of a multitude of fact-sheets and reports, including 50 state reports detailing the importance of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Lawson is also a co-owner and producer at We Act Radio, a media corporation that combines broadcast and news media to deliver shows in the formats people use most. We Act’s original programs can be found streaming at WeActRadio.com, on YouTube, on AM and FM radio stations around the country, and on iTunes. Lawson has previously held positions with Media Matters for America, Campaign for America’s Future, High 5 Consulting, and others. Mr. Lawson received his M.P.P. from George Washington University. Lawson was elected to the Academy in 2012.
Kathleen Romig is a Senior Research Analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), where she works on Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and other budget issues. She publishes frequent articles on the CBPP website that apply policy analysis and recommendations to current topics. Romig previously worked at the Social Security Administration, Social Security Advisory Board, and Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Romig is a past Presidential Management Fellow who completed a rotation at the Office of Management and Budget. She is author or co-author of many CRS reports and Social Security Bulletin articles. Romig was James Madison College’s first recipient of the George J. Mitchell Scholarship, established in honor of former U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell, who served as chairman of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland. The one-year program allowed her to pursue her master’s degree in social policy at the University College in Cork. Romig was elected to the Academy in 2009.
H. Luke Shaefer, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, is the inaugural director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, a new interdisciplinary initiative that aims to become a leader in informing, identifying and testing new strategies for the prevention and alleviation of poverty in Michigan, the nation and the world. His recent book with Kathryn Edin, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2015 by the New York Times Book Review, and won the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, among other awards.
Shaefer’s research on poverty, social insurance and social welfare policy in the United States has been published in top peer-reviewed academic journals such as Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and the American Journal of Public Health, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, among other sources. Shaefer has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies, has testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and has consulted with a number of the nation’s largest social service providers as well as numerous community-based agencies. His work has been cited in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Review, The Atlantic, Vox, the Los Angeles Times, and Huffington Post, among other media outlets, and he has been featured on such programs as Marketplace and CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. Shaefer received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in social service administration at the University of Chicago. He was elected to the Academy in 2013.
Elisa A. Walker is a Social Insurance Specialist in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support. Walker previously served as a consultant and special assistant to SSA’s Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy. Before joining SSA in 2015, she was an Income Security Policy Analyst at the National Academy of Social Insurance, where she analyzed Social Security financing, policy options, and disability insurance. Walker co-authored several Academy publications, including Americans Make Hard Choices on Social Security: A Survey with Trade-Off Analysis.
Walker received the Frances Perkins Center’s 2015 Open Door Award, given annually to an emerging leader in social justice and economic security, and a 2016 Commissioner’s Team Award. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and Spanish from the University of Mary Washington, and has been a member of the Academy since 2015.